Dalat is a south central Vietnamese town that offers travelers good weather, great food, fun shopping and plenty of things to do. In the city you’ll find many interesting French colonial buildings and deeper inland and in the mountains there are waterfalls, hill-tribe villages while farms and rice paddies can be seen everywhere.
Dalat is never short of fun outdoor opportunities such as golf, horseback riding, kids-friendly horse-and-cart rides, hiking, paragliding, and cooking classes. Those who come here just for a few days break from big hectic cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, will definitely enjoy it here. Its mild and pleasant temperatures alone (usually between 17°C to 25°C even in summertime) make Dalat worth a visit and as a result it’s a refreshing destination to escape the constant heat from lower-lying regions.
This doesn’t mean Dalat is a quiet town though; it is a very popular holiday destination for local tourists but the attractions are spread out over vast rolling green hilly areas, meaning you won’t feel crowded out most of the time.
Fans of adventure activities will love it here. Dalat and the nearby area is where visitors can enjoy great outdoor sports such as whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, paragliding and canyoning. There are a few companies in Dalat offering good tour packages including Phat Tire Ventures. This company seems to have the most experience as well as a great team as their guides go through an intensive 30-hour Wilderness First Aid course designed by the Wilderness Medicine Institute and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). They also are sent to a refresher first aid course each year through Family Medical Practice in Ho Chi Minh City. That says a lot.
The cable car ride from/to Truc Lam Monastery Complex is a popular way to see Dalat from above. Along the two and a half kilometre ride, you can enjoy the attractive scenery such as pine tree-covered hills, rivers, rice plantations and the sea. Truc Lam Monastery Complex is rather new and already famous for its beautiful pagoda. Avoid national and school holidays as well as weekends if you want to avoid the crowds. Truc Lam is a lovely place for picnicking.
Dalat is home to many talented chefs and some of them don’t mind sharing their secrets with strangers.
Easy Riders Motorbike Tour
As soon as you arrive in town, the Easy Riders will somehow find you. This is a group of local men who offer to take tourists sightseeing around Dalat’s countryside on vintage Russian motorbikes and newer Hondas. The Easy Riders cleverly select many remarkable spots (mostly off the tourist track) including pine forests, local farms (rice fields are everywhere, as are fruit plantations and vegetable farms), silk factories, waterfalls, minority villages and some of the city’s major landmarks such as the Crazy House.
Easy Riders is not a business company therefore they don’t have an office but you can easily get a hold of them along Troung Cong Dinh Street, usually in front of the popular Hangout Café. They’re not professional tour guides (and some have limited English) but with their enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the area it makes for an interesting way to see the real Vietnam. Danang Motorbike Adventure.
Elephant and Ostriches Ride
Prenn Waterfall is not just another pretty site to visit in Dalat. It offers many interesting activities including elephant and ostrich rides. The humble elephant will take you through unspoiled nature such as small creeks, lakes and green forests. For those who really want to try something different, here is your chance. Ostriches might not be a common transport option but here in Dalat you can ride on one. The idea of climbing up on an ostrich’s back can be quite a challenge but once you manage to get up there and start the ride it is one of the most interesting experiences as these well-trained animals are used to human and are amazingly friendly.
Hiking in Dalat
Leisurely nature walks along forest trails (or many more adventurer treks for the experience hikers) are another way to discover this area’s beauty. Dalat is full of many natural sights where interesting animals and birds can be found. Some treks may lead you to caves, waterfalls, lakes, volcanic peaks, minority villages, suspension bridges and farmlands too.
Lang Bian Mountain (about 12km north of downtown Dalat) is one of the most popular locations for a day or a half-day out hiking. It has five peaks that range from 2100m to 2400m in altitude. Other hot locations for hiking include Ba Be Lake National Park, Pongour Falls and the Lake of Sorrows.
To go hiking in Dalat is quite easy and simple and you don’t really require a tour company; many people just rent a bike and use a local map and off they go. Warm clothing, a raincoat, sunblock lotion and mosquito repellent are usually needed.
Another way to enjoy Dalat’s beautiful countryside is on horseback. Visitors can hire horses by the hour and for about twice the amount they can also take a horse-drawn carriage for a pleasure ride around Dalat Flower Garden and the Lake of Sorrow too.
Dalat Palace Golf Club
The 18-hole Dalat Palace Golf Club first opened in 1922 (originally as a 9-hole course) and later was abandoned until 1993 when it underwent restoration and has since opened to the public. It is now considered the best golf course in the country with lakes, pine trees, valleys and beautiful flower gardens. Famous golfers who have played there beside regulars such as Bao Dai (the last emperor of Vietnam) were Masa Nishijima (the author of the award-winning book Analysis of a Golf Course. Nishijima was also the sixth person to play all the courses listed on GOLF Magazine’s World Top 100 List) and Billy Casper (American golf legend who won 27 tournaments on the PGA Tour).
If you are not staying in Hue, how to visit Hue?
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